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Hearst Castle has a unique charm that everyone needs to experience at least once in their lifetime. And you’re in luck as they have a few special Hearst Castle tours! As a perfect day trip in California, my mother and I visited La Cuesta Encantada aka Hearst Castle back in June 2010. We took the 3.5-hour drive from Los Angeles to San Simeon, CA. And let me tell you, it was completely worth it. Hearst Castle is an unbelievably enchanting place to visit. Being that I’ll be visiting Europe in just over a month I wanted to take a moment to focus on a stateside travel destination.

best Hearst Castle tours

Hearst Castle History

Designed by architect Julia Morgan, it was a residence for newspaper titan William Randolph Hearst between 1919 and 1947. He called the estate “La Cuesta Encantada”, which is Spanish for The Enchanted Hill. By 1947, the estate has a twin-towered main building, three guesthouses, and 127 acres of gardens, fountains, and pools. After Hearst’s death in 1951, the castle became a California State Park in 1958. Since then, it has been operated as the Hearst San Simeon State Historical Monument, which includes the estate, as well as it’s art and antique collection.

Best Hearst Castle Tours

The estate has 165 rooms and 127 acres of gardens, terraces, pools, and walkways. We took the Grand Rooms and the Upstairs Suites tours. To be honest, our guide on the first tour was lackluster and didn’t really engage me as a visitor. So much so that I actually thought it was a waste of a trip. I’m the kind of person that can look at a beautiful place or thing and pretty much respond with ‘eh’ until I actually know something about it.

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Without details, I’m just not as interested. And this tour guide lacked a lot of details, so much so that I could have probably given the Hearst Castle Grand Rooms tour. And that’s the whole point of a tour guide, it’s someone there to inform you about the location. However, all was redeemed by the second tour guide who was bustling with facts and tales of Hearst Castle. I wish I could remember her name because I’d totally give her a shout out here. So honestly, in my opinion, it depends on what tour guide you get as far as which is the best Hearst Castle tour.

The Neptune and Roman Pools

One of the impressive features of the castle is the pools. There is an outdoor one and an indoor one. The outdoor one is called the Neptune pool and originally began as an ornamental pond. However, the desire for a swimming pool and the addition of the Roman temple saw many changes to the structure. In part original and in part comprising elements from structures transported from Europe. The indoor one is a Roman Pool modeled after ancient Roman baths. It is intensely detailed, tiled from ceiling to floor, and has marble copies of eight ancient Greek and Roman deities and athletes around it.

A Treasured Collection

If you thought the pool was impressive, check out William Randolph Hearst’s library! Built for his guests use, it houses more than 4,000 books! As well as 150 ancient Greek vases, which are all more than two thousand years old. That’s as old as Pompeii! A majority of the library collections have first editions, often signed. Some of them by Charles Dickens, his favorite author. Are you a fan of libraries as well? Check out the Austrian National Library then, it’s gorgeous!

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Touring the Castle in San Simeon, CA

At the time of this posting, the Hearst Castle tours were $25.00 for adults and $12.00 for children, per tour. If you’re going to go all the way to San Simeon, CA you should at least do two tours would be my advice. This way you can get a good feel of the castle. You can reserve tickets online up to 60 days in advance so you can get a start on your planning for your day trip in California. A number of different tours are on offer, all of which are listed on their website. Some are seasonal so make sure to check before going that the tour you’re interested in is available.

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Michelle Jensen is a twenty-something traveler, occasionally solo, you’ll find road tripping across the U.S. or hostel-hopping in Europe. Currently residing in Los Angeles, CA with a day job in Television.

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